A small toy procuring cart is seen in entrance of Amazon and Flipkart logos on this image illustration taken, July 30, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photograph

  • Finance ministry objects to 12 curbs drafted by client ministry -memo
  • Three key Indian govt departments object to new guidelines -memos
  • Proposals had already drawn protest from Amazon, Tata
  • Guidelines wanted in sector set to be value $188 bln -consumer min

NEW DELHI, Sept 21 (Reuters) – India’s plan to tighten guidelines on its fast-growing e-commerce market has run into inside authorities dissent, memos reviewed by Reuters present, with the Ministry of Finance describing some proposals as “extreme” and “with out financial rationale”.

The memos provide a uncommon glimpse of high-stakes policy-making governing a market already that includes world retail heavyweights from Amazon (AMZN.O) to Walmart (WMT.N), plus home gamers like Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) and Tata Group. The sector is forecast by Grant Thornton to be value $188 billion by 2025.

It is not clear how the objections from the finance ministry – a dozen in whole – will finally be mirrored within the proposed rule modifications, first floated in June. However watchers of the influential authorities arm say its complaints will not fall on deaf ears within the higher echelons of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.

“The ministry of finance elevating such considerations would probably spur a rethink of the coverage,” mentioned Suhaan Mukerji, managing associate at India’s PLR Chambers, a legislation agency that specialises in public coverage points.

India in June shocked the e-commerce world with proposals from its client affairs ministry that sought to restrict ‘flash gross sales’, rein in a push to advertise private-label manufacturers push and lift scrutiny of relationships between on-line market operators and their distributors. There may be not but a proper implementation timeline for the brand new guidelines.

Although the principles had been introduced after complaints from brick-and-mortar retailers about alleged unfair practices of overseas firms, in addition they drew protest from Tata Group, with greater than $100 billion in income, which is planning an e-commerce enlargement.

However the finance ministry, the ministry of company affairs and the federal think-tank NITI Aayog – an energetic participant in policy-making – have all raised objections in memos reviewed by Reuters, saying the proposals go far past their said purpose of defending shoppers and likewise lack regulatory readability.

An Aug. 31 memo from the Finance Ministry’s Division of Financial Affairs mentioned the principles appeared “extreme” and would hit a sector that would increase job creation in addition to tax income.

“The proposed amendments are prone to have important implications/restrictions on a dawn sector and ‘ease of doing enterprise‘,” mentioned the three-page memo. “Care must be taken to make sure that the proposed measures stay ‘light-touch laws’.”

The finance ministry didn’t reply to Reuters’ requests for remark.

A spokesman for India’s client affairs ministry mentioned in a press release that “inside discussions amongst numerous stakeholders together with authorities companies is (a) signal of mature and wholesome choice making course of in a democracy.”


Voicing its personal objections on July 6, NITI Aayog’s vice chairman, Rajiv Kumar, wrote to Piyush Goyal, who’s minister for commerce in addition to client affairs minister, saying the principles may hit small companies.

“Furthermore, they ship the message of unpredictability and inconsistency in our policy-making,” Kumar wrote within the letter, a duplicate of which was reviewed by Reuters.

Minister Goyal and NITI Aayog’s Kumar didn’t reply to Reuters requests for remark.

The arguments put forth by the finance ministry and NITI Aayog are in keeping with considerations raised by sector operators, and even the U.S. authorities. They are saying New Delhi has in recent times modified e-commerce insurance policies too typically and brought a hard-line regulatory method that particularly hurts American gamers.

However Indian client affairs minister Goyal and brick-and-mortar retailers disagree and have repeatedly mentioned massive U.S. corporations have bypassed Indian legal guidelines and their practices harm small retailers.

The patron affairs ministry has mentioned the brand new guidelines had been aimed to “additional strengthen the regulatory framework” and had been issued after complaints of “widespread dishonest and unfair commerce practices being noticed within the e-commerce ecosystem.”

Its assertion mentioned a lot of state governments, trade our bodies, e-commerce firms and others have supported the laws and the ministry needs to have the most effective workable guidelines for shoppers and enterprise.


However the proposals have met with resistance in a couple of ministry.

In a July 22 memo, the company affairs ministry objected to 1 proposed clause to be enshrined in new guidelines that claims e-commerce corporations shouldn’t abuse their dominant place in India. The ministry mentioned the availability was “pointless and superfluous”, and that the topic was greatest dealt with by India’s antitrust watchdog.

“It’s undesirable to introduce a mini-competition legislation regime within the client” guidelines, mentioned the memo. The company affairs ministry didn’t reply to Reuters requests for remark.

The finance ministry has taken a a lot more durable stance on the proposals and raised a complete of 12 objections.

Amongst them, it mentioned, a proposal that makes on-line procuring web sites answerable for its sellers’ errors can be a “enormous dampener” and will pressure firms “to revisit their fundamental enterprise fashions”.

It additionally lodged a protest in opposition to the banning of flash gross sales, which see deep reductions on provide on web sites like Amazon and are standard throughout festive seasons.

“It is a regular commerce observe. The proposed restriction … appears with out financial rationale,” the ministry wrote.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Enhancing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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